One of the most quiet NFL players in recent memory sure had a lot to say Thursday ahead of his induction into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame.
Former Broncos center Tom Nalen, who retired in 2009, made up for all those "no comments" during his 15-year career and showed precisely why he was wise to stay silent rather than speak his mind.
A staple of the Broncos teams that won back-to-back Super Bowls, Nalen insists he wasn't a dirty player, but he acknowledged trying to injure San Diego Chargers defensive lineman Igor Olshansky during a November 2006 contest.
Nalen, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, dived at Olshansky's knees in the waning seconds of a 35-27 loss to the Chargers. Olshansky threw two punches at Nalen and was ejected. Both players were fined.
Nalen's 188 career starts are second to John Elway in Broncos history, and the lineman says it wasn't a cheap shot but payback for what happened on the previous play. At the time, Nalen's teammates said Olshansky had grabbed Nalen's facemask.
Asked what was the difference between being dirty and being tough, Nalen said: "Probably penalties. You get called for it, right? No, I played clean football. I wasn't a cut blocker, I wasn't like those other four guys next to me. Those were the dirty ones. If you're cut-blocking at center, you're doing the wrong thing probably. So, I wouldn't consider myself a dirty player. ...
"If people would look at the play before that and realize why I did what I did -- and even on that play I missed the cut -- so you know definitely I wanted to blow his knee out on that play because of what happened the play before. But that, you know, is that dirty? I don't know. It's revenge, kind of, so."
Nalen's induction ceremony will be at halftime of the Broncos' Sept. 29 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and he said that while he's thrilled to be the 24th member of the Ring of Fame, he's already dreading his acceptance speech.
"At halftime, I'm hoping there won't be 76,000 fans," Nalen said. "Hopefully, they'll be getting a beer when I'm speaking for 12 seconds or so. I'm not looking forward to that at all, no. I think I'll put my helmet on, I'd feel much more comfortable."